Always the Friend, Never the Bridesmaid
It has happened. Once again, a friend is getting married. Of course,
I'm excited for her even though there is not a single prospect in my
life (kissing some guy at a bar this past Saturday night doesn't
qualify). The bride-to-be and I have been friends for a long time, so
of course I want to hear all the details: how he proposed, where
they're planning to register, what kind of gown she's going to wear, and
of course, I can't wait to find out who the other bridesmaids will be
-besides me, of course. Since we've been friends for so long, at one
point or another we discussed making each other bridesmaids once Mr.
Time passed. Invitations to the engagement party went out. I was
beginning to wonder what the wait was for. I considered asking, "How
many bridesmaids are you having?" or intimating, "Wow, it's really going
to be hard to narrow down who you want in the bridal party." I didn't
have the nerve to be direct about it. I thought it was more tactful to
let her infer that I was planning to be asked.
Then the bomb hit. She told me that she was having six bridesmaids and
that they were all college friends. A different friend explained not
asking me with the uneven ratio thing: six bridesmaids to four ushers
forced her to narrow it down to relatives. A college friend decided to
have seven bridesmaids - six sorority sisters and her real little sister
as maid of honor. My cousin, bubbling with excitement about her wedding
plans, told me that she was planning to have ten bridesmaids. Ten
bridesmaids? And one was the groom's cousin! Yet she offered no reason
for not including me.
Hey, wait a minute. What are these excuses? Why not include me? How
have I managed to wind up on the periphery of these women's lives?
Maybe the first three had plausible excuses, but my cousin didn't even
offer one, and she's a relative! These are people I have always thought
of as special, almost like sisters. Do they not feel the same way about
me? Does this mean that I've been bumped?
I try to think of explanations, like, for the last few years, maybe I've
been more interested in moving my career ahead than paying much heed to
their lives. Maybe they think that because I'm single, I must be
anti-marriage, or at least not ready for it, and that I might cast a
cloud of concupiscence over their ceremony. It could be that they
think that because I've been in financial hell for the past three years,
I can't very well afford the shower, the gown, and the bachelorette
party, along with all the other things I need to afford. But I have to
face the fact that the truth may be that they do not think that we are
as close as I do.
When I tell my other friends that it hurts to be overlooked, some tell
me to express myself to my soon-to-be-married friends. Others say to
keep my mouth shut. A few suggest that I'm just too sentimental.
Once at the wedding, I see who beat me out the coveted role of
bridesmaid. Sometimes I am surprised that my newly married friend would
prefer a certain person to me, especially when it's someone I don't much
like. But at some point, it becomes insignificant. At all these
weddings, I get to catch up with people that I haven't seen in years,
and we have more fun that if I had actually been in the wedding. We
even make fun of some of the bridesmaids for whom we hold mutual
contempt. Plus, a guest can get drunk with a certain amount of
anonymity. And chances are that no one else is wearing the same dress
you are. Most important, I realize that it's not about the bridesmaids;
rather, it's about the newlywed couple.
As I say goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Married, I ponder the gamut of
emotions. I started out feeling hurt, but by the time the whole shindig
was over, I was okay. Perhaps I was even better than just okay. I
began to think that eventually, someone would ask me to marry him, and
then I'd have all the details to plan, bridesmaids to pick - wait! I
get to pick bridesmaids someday? Hmm . . . the possibilities. . . the
sweet revenge. . . the ugly bridesmaid dresses I could make them wear.
Well, maybe I'll behave. Maybe. Or maybe I'll just skip the ceremony
and get married in Tahiti.
Sometimes it still hurts not to be asked. I finally mustered the
courage to confront an old friend, and she told me that she could only
include so many people. Another friend apologetically explained that
she would have asked me, but she knew that since I hadn't been working
at the time, and, well, you get the picture.
But seriously, I realized, it's just a few hours of one day out of your
life. Get on the dance floor; eat until you bust a seam, I tell myself.
Or don't go if it upsets you that much - send a gift instead. What
really matters is how you and your friends continue to enrich each
other's lives. After all, you both had lives before the big day, and
you'll continue to have one as friends long after.
© Sharon-Adrianna Gordin
Sharon-Adrianna Gordin has written for various publications, including
Girls Life, Mode, Grace Woman, and What magazine. She is a regular
contributor to New York City's oldest weekly, The Villager, and its
sister publication, Gay City News. Ms. Gordin predominantly writes
about music, entertainment, and health. She used to write a column
about dating called "The Serial Kisser", but now serially kisses one
man. She lives in Manhattan.
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